PocketTube offers better YouTube Subscriptions Management

YouTube’s subscription feature is a prime example of a feature that has been cut down to its very core to make it as simple as possible and at the same time almost entirely useless.

The Google-owned property removed the option to manage subscriptions in collections in 2015 and with it came the removal of nearly any subscription-related option such as sorting. It is nearly impossible to keep an eye on subscriptions if the count reaches two or even three digits using native functionality especially since subscriptions are barely highlighted anymore on YouTube’s homepage.

Extensions provide the only recourse to the dumbing down; we reviewed YouTube Subscription Manager for Chrome back in 2015 which restored management functionality.

PocketTube offers similar but more advanced functionality. The subscription manager is available for Chrome and Firefox, Apple iOS and Android, and as a web service.

Among the many features that it offers is native integration on YouTube, options to create groups and add subscriptions to groups, sort subscriptions or show last YouTube videos by group.

I looked at the browser extensions for this review.

youtube subscriptions manager groups

The extension adds a new entry to YouTube’s sidebar that is called Subscription Groups. The widget lists all available groups and may display the channels added to these groups. One of your first tasks is to create at least one group as you will notice otherwise that the “add to group” dialog displays nothing. The develop should consider adding info to the dialog if no group has been created to assist first-time users.

Once you have created your first group you may add channels to it. Just open any channel page on YouTube and click on the new “plus” icon next to the subscribe(d) and notifications options.

youtube groups

PocketTube displays all available groups and the selection of any adds the channel to that group. Groups can be sorted by date published, A-Z, subscriber count or custom sort order; the latter supports dragging and dropping channels to new positions.

The settings that PocketTube provides list an option to hide channels that you have added to groups from the general subscriptions listing. It is disabled by default though.

One of the best features of PocketTube is the ability to display all recent videos of a group on a new page on YouTube.  Instead of having to go through all subscriptions on YouTube, as the site offers no grouping option anymore, you can open videos from a specific group only; very useful. Videos are listed in order of publication starting with the most recent additions. A play all button is provided on the page to play all videos one after the other.

There is more on offer here though. You can add custom icons to collections to make them stand out more if you use multiple groups. Settings may be exported and imported for manual syncing but there is also an option to sync automatically using Google Drive.

Closing Words

PocketTube restores a much needed feature on YouTube and improves it significantly. It is ideal for users of the site who have a medium to large number of subscriptions and want better manageability of these channels. While it takes a moment to set everything up, it is relatively easy to do.

Now You: do you use Youtube’s subscription service?

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Free Firefox and Chrome memory with Auto Tab Discard

Auto Tab Discard is an add-on for the Firefox and Chrome web browsers that frees up memory that the web browsers uses by discarding inactive tabs. Discarding in this context means that the tabs are unloaded but kept open in the browser.

Web browser users who keep multiple tabs open in the browser of choice may notice that memory use increases with each tab that gets opened.

Both Google and Mozilla have developed systems to unload tabs in low memory situations, but these solutions are not as efficient as those provided be extensions.

We reviewed numerous in the past including Sleep Mode for Firefox or Lazy Load Tabs for Chrome. Most Firefox extensions that used to work in the browser were not updated when Firefox 57 was released.

Auto Tab Discard

discarded tabs firefox

Auto Tab Discard runs automatically in the background. The default setting unloads tabs after 600 seconds of inactivity if the number of inactive tabs exceeds six tabs.

Tabs are not discarded when they meet certain criteria, e.g. when media is playing or form changes have not been submitted. Additional discarding conditions are listed in the options. The following conditions need to be enabled manually:

  • When a tab is pinned.
  • When there is no Internet connection and tabs have not been cached.
  • When it is allowed to display desktop notifications.
  • When computer is not in idle state.

One of the strengths of the extension is that it provides lots of customization options. You can change the unloading interval or number of inactive tabs required as well as criteria that prevent or allow tabs and sites to be discarded by the extension.

Sites that match criteria are not discarded but there is also an option to add sites to the whitelist to prevent that they are unloaded by the extension. Discarded tabs are retained even across sessions; they remain discarded until activated by the user.

Information such as the scroll position or text inside text fields is retained by the extension and loaded when a site becomes activate again. JavaScript and other code is not run anymore when tabs are discarded.

auto tab discard

The automatic discarding of tabs is a useful feature but the developer has added options to run the processes manually as well. A left-click on the extension icon displays options to discard the active tab, all other tabs of the browser window, all tabs in other windows, or all other tabs.

The menu has options to whitelist the active site permanently or for the browsing session.

Note: Extensions are not permitted to run on internal pages and some other pages (e.g. https://addons.mozilla.org/). Firefox users may disable the restrictions for non-local-sites on about:config by manipulating the preference extensions.webextensions.restrictedDomains.

Other options provided by the settings include changing the default action of a left-click on the extension icon, or to disable the opening of the FAQ page when the extension has been updated.

Closing Words

Auto Tab Discard is a useful extension for Firefox and Chrome that may be used to free up memory automatically or manually by discarding tabs.  The extension may be useful in situations where the browser starts to feel sluggish, even if enough memory us available

Now You: do you use extensions that help you free memory?

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Use AI to determine whether a text is generated or real in Chrome

GPTrue or False is an extension for the Google Chrome web browser that uses AI to determine the probability of texts being genuine or generated by AI.

Update: it is also available for Firefox.

The capabilities of AI have increased significantly in recent years. From humble beginnings — anyone remember Little Computer People on the Commodore C-64 — to AI that is writing pop songs, the generation of deepfakes, or AI that writes text automatically.

It may not always be possible to determine whether text or other content has been generated by an artificial intelligence or by a human.

GPTrue or False is a Chrome extension that may be used to detect whether text is generated or written by humans. The extension is based on GTP-2 and may provide probabilities for texts generated with Open AI’s with higher accuracy. It works with any text that you want to analyze but the outcome may not be as accurate.

To use it, you’d simply install the extension in Google Chrome or another Chromium-based web browser that supports Google Chrome extensions. The installer adds an icon to the Chrome address bar that you interact with.

determine articles fake true

A click on the icon reveals how the extension works. You need to select at least 50 words of text on the active page, click on the extension icon and then on the “determine realness” button to have it analyzed.

The extension adds the outcome of the analysis to the actual page. Text and color indicate the probability that text is real or computer generated

The analysis itself is quick and I did not run into any technical issues during tests. It takes a second or two to return the result to the page.

The extension works well with Open AI computer generated text that uses GPT-2. You can use the system to generate texts on the Talk To Transformer page.

text is fake

The extension returns low “realness” probabilities for these generated texts. If you use the extension to check texts generated by other algorithms / AIs, you may notice that it is not nearly as accurate when it comes to those.

Closing Words

GPTrue or False is an interesting extension for Google Chrome that predicts whether texts that you have it analyzed are computer generated or written by human beings. The extension works well if the text is generated using GPT-2 but falls short if it is generated using other AIs/algorithms. It would become more useful if the developer would turn it into a universal detector.

Now You: What is your take on computer generated texts?

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Use the LeechBlock NG extension for Firefox, Chrome to block distracting websites while you work

Have you ever found yourself browsing social networks or video streaming sites when you were supposed to do something else?

It happens to the best of us. I always find such websites distracting and avoid them for a good part of my day. If you have a hard time ignoring videos of cute cats or discussions on Twitter / Facebook, you may need a bit of help to get things done and avoid wasting time.

Use LeechBlock NG for Firefox, Chrome to block distracting websites while you work

There are some measures that people take to become more productive. I’ve seen a couple of my friends going offline for days at a time from social platforms to concentrate on their projects. While I think it is a bit drastic, I can understand that they want to devote their efforts in something that’s actually worth it. But just like when you’re on a diet and are tempted to snack, the temptation to chat with your mates, or binge watch some shows is quite difficult to overcome. You need to have a bit of control.

Recently, I came across an add-on for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, which might help in such situations. It’s called LeechBlock NG. Now don’t mistake it for some internet filtering software that blocks inappropriate content. It’s a productivity tool and works quite well.

Tip: take a look at Undistracted for Chrome as well as it offers similar functionality.

Its primary purpose is to block websites of your choice. Click on the shield icon of the extension, to open its menu. There are 4 buttons here: Options, Lockdown, Override and Statistics. What do these do?

Options

There are six block sets here, each of which act as individual rule sets. So, you can block some websites in Block Set 1 with custom settings and use Block Set 2 with different websites and settings and so on.

You can optionally give each block set a name, like Social or Multimedia, or Gaming. The large text box is used for entering the domain names of the websites that you wish to block. I recommend blocking the top level domain of the website, e.g. Facebook.com or Twitter.com.

LeechBlock NG for Firefox

The timer boxes allow you to set the time when the sites should be blocked, for example 0900-1700 (9AM to 5PM). Optionally, you can set a time limit to block the sites, like once every few minutes for every hour/day.

LeechBlock NG also lets you customize the days when it should block the websites. The default setting is set to weekdays but you can modify these. If you need to get homework or a project done on the weekend, you may want to include the days in the blocking of sites.

The How to Block section basically lets you configure what should happen when a blocked website is accessed. The options are fairly simple:

So, what happens when you try to access a blocked URL? That depends on what you chose in the “How to Block” section. The default page shows you a warning that “The page you’re trying to access has been blocked by LeechBlock.” It also mentions the URL you tried to access, and displays the time when the page will be unblocked.

LeechBlock NG in effect

There are three optional color filters that you can use instead of the blocking page: grayscale, invert and sepia. There are a lot of other options that you can configure in the General Tab (including an override option).

Lockdown

This is similar to the regular blocking, but instead of waiting for the schedule to begin, it locks down the block set immediately. You can set how long to block the sites by specifying hours and minutes, e.g. you could input 2 hours if you want to block the sites for 120 minutes while you buckle down and work.

The extension lets you lockdown all block sets or just the ones you wish to. Hit activate Lockdown and you are good to go.

Override

To use this, you have to first define the Temporary Override settings from the General tab under the Options screen.

Statistics

This is just for your reference, and you can use it to view the start date and time, time spent since start, time spent per week/day, time left in limit period, and the lockdown end time. You can reset one or all block set statistics by hitting the restart button.

Closing Words

Sometimes I get carried away when I come across interesting devices, games, deals, etc, and end up spending more time than I should reading about those. Maybe this add-on will help me to become more efficient. I think it could be useful for students who’re preparing for exams or office workers working on projects/meetings.

Remember this, don’t blame the add-on if you end up bypassing the blocks that you set. It’s more of a reminder for you to concentrate on the task that you wanted to focus on as you can easily bypass its protections, e.g. by using a different browser.

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How to determine if a Google Chrome extension is safe

When it comes to online security, you can never be too careful; this guide isn’t about antivirus programs, firewalls or VPNs though, as it is about Chrome extensions.

Just because an extension is on the Chrome web store doesn’t mean it is safe to use. There have been many cases of malicious add-ons which have been taken down in the past after they were installed by millions of Chrome users in some cases.

Note: The guide provides additional information on checking whether Chrome extensions are (likely) safe to use. You can check out Martin’s guide on verifying Chrome extensions, and there especially the part on looking at the source.

How to determine if a Google Chrome extension is safe

Google Chrome extension reviews

We will focus on steps that you may undertake before installing extensions. It is often easier to determine if an extension is shady or outright malicious if you have installed it as it may be the cause for visible unwanted changes or activity such as hijacking search engines, displaying advertisement or popups, or showing other behavior that was not mentioned in the extension’s description.

Users who known JavaScript may also check the source of the extension. Check out Martin’s guide linked above for information on how to do that.

Web Store page

Analyze the extension’s listing and see if it rings some alarm bells. Broken grammar or English may be seen as warning signs but since developers from all over the world publish extensions on the Store, some may be written by non-English natives. Bad grammar or spelling mistakes may not be used as an indicator. Irrelevant screenshots or very odd descriptions, on the other hand are all tell-tale signs of a malicious extension. These are quite rare though.

Logos

Malware developers resort to all sorts of tricks to infect users, and one of these is to use the logo (icon) of popular brands or applications. Sometimes, people get fooled by these and think it’s from the company which makes the actual software. Pay attention to the developer name and click on it to see their other extensions.

Developer’s Website and Contact

Does the extension have its own web page? Visit it to learn more about it and maybe something about the developer. We recommend using a content blocker when visiting these sites to avoid issues if the site is specifically prepared to attack decvices.

Not all extensions have a web page, but most do, at least for support requests/FAQs.  Is there a contact option on the Chrome web store page which lets you email the developer? If there is one it’s a good sign, but an absence of one doesn’t mean it’s a fake extension.

Google Chrome extension developer website

Privacy Policy

This is perhaps the most overlooked one? Who reads the privacy policy? You should, because unlike website registrations or software agreements, you’re not shown the privacy policy for an extension when you install it. But it may exist as a loophole for the developer to get out of a legal dispute, should one arise. You accept the policy the second you install the extension.

Use Control + F and search for words like data, collect, track, personal, etc, in privacy policies. Your browser should highlight the sentences which contain the word and you should read what it says.

If the policy is upfront about the data they collect, think about if it’s worth using the extension at the cost of privacy. I’ll give you a hint: It’s never acceptable.

Obviously, developers and companies with ill-intent may add whatever they like to the privacy policy.

Permissions

When you click the install button, read the pop-up which lists the permissions the extension requires. Permissions may give important clues; an add-on for a visual enhancement (like a theme) shouldn’t require permissions like “Communicate with cooperating websites”. That means it could be sending data, your personal data, to some server.

Google Chrome extension permissions

Reviews

These are big red flags if you know how to identify legit ones. Does an extension have reviews? Are they all 5-star reviews? That’s suspicious. Look at the publishing date of each review. If you find that they were all posted on the same day it may be fishy. Look at the text as well, if they look more or less the same, or if the usernames only contain random characters, alarm bells should go off and you should look deeper.

Take a look at the screenshot here. What do you see?

How to determine if a Google Chrome extension is safe or not

Did the reviewers copy/pasted the comment? It’s possible, but it wasn’t in this case. The extension had multiple reviews which used the same comments over and over. In fact, there was more than one review left by the same user. Is it possible the extension has hijacked the user to post these reviews? Or were they paid for? Regardless of this, I’d recommend avoiding such extensions to be on the safe side.

It may be a good idea to check whether the developer has commented on any of the user reviews. Go over the next few pages.

Search for similar extensions, watch out for the clones

The screenshot which you saw above is actually not from the original extension. I bet you weren’t expecting that? It was from a clone of another extension which had a similar name, same features, slightly different description, an identical privacy policy.

How to tell if a Google Chrome extension is safe
How to tell if a Google Chrome extension is safe 2

It was alarming. The worst part was that the original add-on was about 2.15 MB in size while the clone was about 4.26 MB. If it was a clone, what’s the extra size for? That is scary. So search the web store using similar keywords  (or the name of the extension), check out the results. Look at the add-on’s published date, the older one is obviously the original.

Again, if you known JavaScript, you could analyze the code to find out why the clone has a size that is nearly double the size of the original. It could be something as simple as an uncompressed image that is used as a logo or additional code that may be used for malicious or invasive practices.

Open Source

If the extension is open source, it is likely that it could be safe. But I wouldn’t take it for granted. You should go to the page where the source code is published to see if it actually exists. You should also check when the last commit was made on the source code page. If the extension was updated recently, but the source code wasn’t, the extension may no longer be open source and possibly open to privacy and security issues.

Search across Social networks

You could try Googling for the extension’s name to see whether any issues, recommendations or reviews were posted by users on social networks. This gives you an idea of real-world usage of the extension.

If you do come across suspicious extensions, do yourself and everyone a favor, and report it to Google.

Some tips I mentioned here aren’t necessarily restricted to Chrome extensions, they apply to extensions for other browsers such as Firefox as well.

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Save downloads in Chrome to Date folders automatically

Organize Downloads by Date is an extension for the Google Chrome web browser that saves downloads to date folders automatically.

Chrome, like any other browser out there, saves downloads to a single directory by default. On Windows, it is usually the Downloads folder on the system that everything gets saved to. While that works for many users, as all downloads are found easily that way, it may be problematic for users who download a lot of files or want to better keep track of their activity.

Sorting downloads into folders is not a new concept entirely. We reviewed the excellent Firefox add-on Sort Downloads back in 2008 (no longer available) which could be used to set custom folders based on a file’s extension, and the equally good Automatic Save Folder extension (also no longer available).

Another popular option was to run local tools to sort files in the download folder to improve organization. Windows users could use programs like SubDiv, I Like To Move It, or File Sieve, or good old Windows Explorer.

The Google Chrome extension Organize Downloads by Date adds an automated option to the web browser. Once installed, it sorts files into date folders automatically based on the current date.

download files chrome date folders

The sorting saves downloads automatically to subfolders of the main downloads folder using the format Year/Month. For November 2019, downloads would be put into the folder Downloads/2019/11; once December 2019 is reached, downloads are put into Downloads/2019/12 instead.

The sorting happens automatically and with zero user interaction. The folders are created automatically as well and Chrome’s own downloads manager opens the right location when you select to open a download in its local folder.

Organize Downloads by Date is an open source extension. You can check out the source code of the extension on the project’s GitHub website if you want to analyze it or use the excellent Chrome Extensions Source Viewer to view its files before installation.

Closing Words

Chrome users who want better manageability of their downloads may install Organize Downloads by Date to save downloads automatically to Year/Date folders. The extension should work in the majority of Chromium-based browsers out there as well but I did not test that.

Now You: Do you put all downloads into a single folder or sort them neatly?

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Search for webpages in your history and bookmarks efficiently with the Memex extension for Firefox and Chrome

Memex is an interesting web browser add-on that is designed specifically for powerusers. Before you ask, no it’s not a meme generator.

It is a Vannevar Bush inspired bookmarking/local search engine of sorts that you can use to quickly find webpages that you visited in the past. The extension is available for Firefox and Chrome.

Search for webpages in your history and bookmarks efficiently with the Memex extension for Firefox and Chrome

When you install the add-on, it may appear to be requesting a scary amount of permissions. But they are required for Memex to work. The extension has a visual tutorial which explains how it works; the GIFs that it uses are a bit too speedy for my liking.

Once you have installed the add-on, click on its icon (the brain) to bring up a menu and get a few options here. The go to dashboard takes you to the main interface of the extension and the main way you make use of its functionality.

Memex extension for Firefox and Chrome

Memex indexes pages to make search more powerful in the browser. You need to remember that it saves only the content of individual pages; it is not enough to bookmark the homepage of a site, e.g. Ghacks, to get all articles indexed.

The add-on comes with a handy import feature to import pages from the browsing history.

For now let’s go back to the menu. The “Star this page” option is similar to bookmarking but adds the page to Memex’s database, and tags are used to identify starred pages quickly. Just select a page and tag it with a relevant word and it will become usable, or should I say searchable by Memex. You can add multiple tags for a page and collections are like folders to improve organization of webpages.

Another way to use these options

By default, Memex should add a sidebar and it should be visible when you mouse over to the right edge of the screen. There are buttons here that let you open Memex’s dashboard, perform a search, star pages, add tags and perform other actions.

Memex sidebar

There is one important feature which is present in the sidebar which is not in the menu: Notes. The name is a bit misleading as it is an annotation tool. Memex allows you to annotate on any web page. To do so, click the notes icon and type something. For e.g. If you’re an Amazon page, you could type something like “This could be an interesting gift for Max’s birthday.” So, you’ll remember why you saved the page and why.

You can also highlight text content like you would do with a marker. If you have used Microsoft Edge you may be familiar with these options. When you select text on a web-page, a tooltip should appear and you can use it to link to the highlighted text for reference. When you click on it in the dashboard, you will be taken to the page with the highlighted content visible.

Memex also supports keyboard shortcuts.

  • Sidebar – r
  • Star Page  – c
  • Add tag – t
  • Add to collections – u

Let’s star a page, tag it and add it to a collection to demonstrate how this all works and how it benefits you. Say, you want to add the Ghacks homepage to the database. You can visit the page and click on the star icon to bookmark it in Memex. Click on the tag button to add a tag, like Windows Software, Linux apps, or technology. The collection button can be used to add the page to a folder like Tech or Blogs.

Note: I found the sidebar to be buggy at times, and used the menu options instead.

Now, back to the dashboard. To the left you have your collections, which are sort of like folders for your bookmarks.  In the center you have the search box.

How does the search work?

The add-on can search for the keyword in various ways. Basically it can find any page you have bookmarked or tagged or added to a collection. In addition to this, it can also find pages which you annotated or highlighted text on.

It supports full-text search of the web history and bookmarks, and supports filters next to that. You can use the filter option to narrow down the search further by

  • Date – Select a date range (say, October 27, 2019 – October 28, 2019)
  • Tags – Remember how we added tags? Use the same keyword here.
  • Domains- narrow down search by URL (example: ghacks.net)

Don’t have any of these at hand? Memex can still find the page by the text from titles and URLs.

Assuming you added a few pages to the database, perform a search using a relevant word and you should be able to find the page instantly. The best part is that the extension is meant to be an “offline-first” one. It is also open source, and has a good privacy policy. The add-on stores the data on your computer, so your data is yours. You can optionally backup your data on your computer, or to the cloud service of your choice from the settings menu.

Memex has a pro version that is completely optional. All it does is automatically backup the data every 15 minutes and supports cross-device sync.

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Search for webpages in your history and bookmarks efficiently with the Memex extension for Firefox and Chrome appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Find tabs quickly with the Tabhunter extension for Firefox and Chrome

Recently we told you about FoxyTab, which is an amazing way to manage tabs in your web browser. Want something to complement it?

Try Tabhunter. It is an open source add-on that offers a few features which makes it an incredible tool.

Find tabs quickly with the Tabhunter extension for Firefox and Chrome

Let’s say you opened a web page and forgot all about it. It happens, but to search for it manually might take a while since you have to check each and every tab. This is where Tabhunter comes into play; just click on the add-on’s icon enter the name of the website in the “Pattern” box,  e.g. “ghacks”. If you don’t remember the website’s name, try entering a term which was part of the webpage/article’s title, e.g. “Firefox” or “Spotify” or something that you can recall.

You can use either search term and Tabhunter will display a list of tabs which match it. A click on a result highlights the selection in the browser.

Note: The URL box isn’t a text field. It displays the URL of a selected tab.

Now you can perform a few actions. Look at the bottom of the add-on’s interface, it has the following options

  • Go
  • Close tab
  • Copy URL
  • Copy Title URL
  • Copy URL + Title
  • Audio Only
  • More
  • Search Text in Tabs

Let’s take a look at what each of these does.

Go

This option will switch to the selected tab instantly. That’s a real time-saver, isn’t it? You don’t have to scroll through the tabs anymore to find the one you want to jump to.

Close tab

Guess what this one does? Obviously it closes the selected tab. What if you want to close multiple tabs? Tabhunter supports multi-select, i.e. you can highlight one tab or more and click on the close tab button to close them all. This multi-select works with other options as well (except the Go option).

Tabhunter extension for Firefox and Chrome multi-select tabs

Tip: You can bring up the add-on’s interface by using the keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl + S on Windows (Shift + Ctrl + T on macOS, and Ctrl + 5 on Linux).

Copy URL, Copy Title URL and Copy URL + Title

All three options are similar and perform the action they are named after. Say you select 5 tabs, you can use one of the options to copy their address, title or both. This will copy the data to the clipboard, and you can paste it into any program. It also makes it easy to share a bunch of links at the same time.

Audio Only

I came across Tabhunter while looking for a way to locate noisy tabs, and have been using it ever since. So please refer to my previous coverage about this feature to learn more about it.

More

This section expands the interface of the extension to display a few additional options.

Tabhunter extension for Firefox and Chrome

The Bookmark Tabs option will save the currently selected tab(s) to the folder that you choose. That can be handy if you want to bookmark multiple tabs at once.  The Discard Tabs will unload the selected tabs from memory, while Activate Tabs reloads them. You can optionally choose to hide discarded tabs from the list. You can also change the keyboard shortcut, sorting options, the font size of the text used by the add-on and the behavior of the Go button (closes the addon’s interface when used) from the More section.

Search Text in Tabs

If you want to find something specific from one of the tabs, you can try searching for a word or a phrase by using the “Search Text in Tabs” option. Make sure that the “Pattern” field is cleared when you want to use the search text in tabs option to search in all tabs, else the add-on will only search for the term in the tabs that match the “Pattern” keyword.

Closing Words

Tabhunter has been incredibly useful for me, and has actually helped me reduce my tab hoarding habit considerably. (I’m down from hundreds to a couple of dozens)

Read the description of Tabhunter on the add-ons page, it may amuse you. And one of the screenshots on that pays tribute to Tab Hunter, a 1960s icon.

Thank you for being a Ghacks reader. The post Find tabs quickly with the Tabhunter extension for Firefox and Chrome appeared first on gHacks Technology News.

Block Categories, Channels and Tags on Twitch with Unwanted Twitch

Unwanted Twitch is a browser extension for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox to block certain categories, channels or tags on the Twitch website.

If you visit the Twitch website regularly in your browser of choice, you may have noticed that it may highlight categories, channels or tags to you that you have no interest in. If that has been the case, you may be interested in a solution to hide those on the Twitch website to avoid being exposed to them.

Unwanted Twitch is available for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome officially. Web browsers based on Firefox or Chrome, e.g. Brave, Vivaldi or Opera, may also be compatible with the extension.

The extension requests a single extra permission, and that is access to the main Twitch website; good. It adds options to the Twitch website to hide channels, categories or tags.

Hiding takes place everywhere on Twitch but the option to add items to the blacklist is only available on some pages. The frontpage, following and sidebar listings offer no such options but items are blocked on them.

twitch hide channel

The browse pages, e.g. by category or live channels, and the game pages, e.g. live channels, videos or clips, all feature blocking options. The extension adds an x-icon to each listing; all you need to do is click on the icon to blacklist that particular channel, category, or tag on Twitch.

How content is hidden by the extension depends on the page that you are on. Elements are removed entirely from browsing pages but not on the frontpage where elements are not displayed anymore but the locations they have been in are still visible.

twitch hide channels

A click on the extension menu displays three options:

  1. Hide the x-icon on Twitch.
  2. Disable the extension.
  3. Open the blacklist manager.

The first two options are self-explanatory. You may want to disable the extension to access Twitch unfiltered, and the blacklist icons may not be needed all the time.

The blacklist manager lists all blacklisted channels, categories and tags on Twitch.tv.

blacklist manager twitch

Options to remove individual items or all items are provided. You may add items manually to each list to block them and may disable the filtering of channels that you follow to make sure that they display just like before.

The settings page features a handful of other options. You may disable cloud synchronization of the blacklist on the page and enable the hiding of rerun streams. Import and export options are provided on the page as well.

Closing Words

Unwanted Twitch is a useful extension that Twitch users may utilize to hide certain content on the site. The blocking works as advertised and if there is something to criticize, it is that the shapes of the blocked elements remain visible on some pages.

Now You: do you use Twitch or other video streaming sites? Any extensions that you use?

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The end of uBlock Origin for Google Chrome?

There has been lots of talk about Google’s proposed changes to the Chrome web browser’s extensions system and how these changes would affect content blockers and other extensions.

The new manifest file for Chrome extensions could end extensions like uBlock Origin for the web browser. Google changed some parameters after it faced heavy user and developer criticism but did not revert the course completely.

Raymond Hill (gorhill), the developer of uBlock Origin revealed recently that Google rejected a new developer version of the extension. Developers upload new extension versions to the Chrome Web Store to replace existing versions; Google runs automated scans of these tools and may also look at the uploaded extensions manually before allowing or rejecting them.

ublock origin rejected
via Raymond Hill / GitHub

In an email to the developer, Google stated that the extension violated one of the Chrome Store’s policies that prohibits the bundling of unrelated functionality in extensions.

The email provides no information on the actual violation other than that, a practice that Google has been criticized for in the past.

Hill, a long-time developer, had no illusions that Google would provide actionable information about the rejection.

No point speculating one way or another, my experience with the CWS in the past is that we will never know why it was labelled “REJECTED”, they never disclose the exact “why”.

The developer version of the extension is used by fewer users than the stable version which means that the rejection does not affect the bulk of users of the extension yet. The main issue with the rejection is that the next stable version of the extension will be more or less identical to the rejected developer version.

While there is still the chance that it will go through, it is more likely that it too will be rejected by Google and that this could effectively end uBlock Origin for Google Chrome.

Since the next uBO release will essentially be what 1.22.5rc2 is, consider that uBO is probably coming to an end of life in the Chrome Web Store — there is no good reason to believe uBO 1.22.5rc2 would no longer be rejected with only changing the version number to 1.23.0.

Hill recommends that users find another browser that continues to support uBlock Origin if they want to continue using the extension.

The latest version of the extension is available for many major browsers including Mozilla Firefox and other Chromium-based web browsers.

Closing Words

It is impossible to know why the extension was rejected from the Chrome Web Store unless Google would provide further information on the issue. While it is certainly possible that the stable extension update would be allowed by Google, it seems more likely that it will be rejected as well by the company.

Now You: What is your take on the development?

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